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Each quarter we do our best to provide you with an update on any Smilers related related information, news snippets and anything else we think you might be interested in!  Full details of all new issues will appear under the New Issues menu option.

Earlier News Reports (e.g. Q1-17) are provided in Adobe Acrobat pdf file format and are generally available during the first couple of weeks following the preceding quarter. Click on this link News Archive to go to the Smilers News Archive page.

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Q1 2018 

  • Game of Thrones "Collector" sheet

    By now you will no doubt of heard of the impending release/deluge of Royal Mail's blockbuster stamp issue due out on 23rd January 2018 - Game of Thrones.  Since 2018 is also the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty I can't help thinking that Royal Mail may have missed a trick here - or is this just another "jab to the eye" for our European partners?

    Anyway, for what it is worth this notable issue contains at least one product of interest to Smilers collectors - a generic sheet comprising 10 stamps/labels in the style of previous Star Wars collector sheets (Royal Mail's new term for a generic stamp sheet with collectible theme - at least that's how I have interpreted them!).

    According to Royal Mail, this "A4 sized sheet features 10 stamps (each a 1st Class character stamp) along with labels that highlight key quotes from the series".

    We will be carrying this sheet in stock priced £12.50 + £2pp, please e-mail me if interested.  (04/01)

  • Platinum Royal Wedding Sheet from Benham

    A new business customised stamp sheet celebrating the Platinum Wedding anniversary of HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip has been announced by Benham. The stamp labels chronicle their married life from the engagement through to the present day and the sheet background features the newly married couple on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. Issued in a numbered limited edition of 700 it is available for purchase from Benham's website.  According to their website the sheet is still in production and will not be available until late December. (11/12)


  • Three New Themed Smilers Sheets

    A "flurry" of Themed Smilers sheets have arrived this week, two from the British Forces Philatelic Society (BFPS) and one from the Isle of Pabay stable.

    The Isle of Pabay folks have released their traditional winter Smilers sheet in the form of a personalised Glorious Scotland bearing an image by Pam Budge who runs Croft Studios on the Isle of Skye.



    Issued on the 1st December 2017, the sheet is available from Isle of Pabay Stamp Sales priced £45 incl. p+p.

    The BFPS have released two new sheets and associated souvenir covers recently to mark two anniversaries.  The first celebrates the centenary of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) or Wrens as they became known. To celebrate the centenary of this formation and the way in which the WRNS helped to define the opportunities for women in the Royal Navy, the BFPS in conjunction with the WRNS Benevolent Trust and the Association of Wrens, has produced a commemorative cover issued on the 29th November 2017 and the smilers stamps are also available in full sheets of 20 stamps/labels.


    The second new cover/sheet issued by BFPS commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) whose nurses have worked at the sharp end of military life throughout the last century of military nursing. The QARANC Association was founded in 1947 by Dame Louisa Wilkinson DBE RRC and gives support and friendship to all who are serving or have served in the Corps.  To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Association the BFPS, in conjunction with the QARANC Association, has produced a commemorative cover released on the 1st December 2017.


    Both covers and stamp sheets are available for purchase on-line or by mail order by sending a cheque (payable to 'BFPS CIC') to BFPS The Old Post Office Links Place Elie LEVEN KY9 1AX. (05/12)

  • Business Customised Sheets - The End in Sight!

    As predicted in this column (Q1-2017) Royal Mail have decided to end the Business Customised Stamp sheet service and have today released the following announcement in their Key News bulletin aimed at the Philatelic Market.

    "Another recent review has looked at the use and popularity of the BCS service and having considered the number of BCS orders received over the past two years Royal Mail has taken the decision to end the BCS service in 2018. Last orders for Business Customised Sheets will be accepted on 31st March 2018 for delivery in May 2018. Following which the BCS service will cease, The Smilers service, used for smaller volumes, will remain."

    Whilst we are disappointed to hear this news, we are not surprised.  In January of this year we reviewed the product and proposed changes which, in our view, would have generated more interest and help make the product more commercially viable. In our opinion Royal Mail have not listened and have done nothing positive to revive this product line. We concluded our article with these prophetic words:

    "Given these figures one has to question the future of the Business Customised Stamp sheet."

    The issues appearing over the past two years have been dull to say the least and in our view have struggled to capture the imagination of Smilers collectors. Royal Mail have only themselves to blame for not listening to their public! (30/11) 

  • Isle Of Anglesey Philatelic Bureau Themed Smilers Sheet No. 4

    Produced by Martin Husband (T/A Isle of Anglesey Philatelic Bureau) this new themed Smilers sheet, the fourth from the Anglesey Philatelic Bureau stable, features an image of Llangwyfan - St Cwyfan’s Church. 


    Priced at £40 per sheet plus £2 p+p, the sheets are available direct from Martin Husband who has provided the following historical context for this sheet.

    The most recognizable church on Anglesey, St. Cwyfan's, is popularly known as the Church in the Sea (or eglwys bach y mor in Welsh). Perched on a tiny island called Cribinau, encircled by a sea wall, this simple medieval church dates to the 12th century. It is thought to be dedicated to the Irish St. Kevin, who founded the monastery across the sea at Glendalough in Co Wicklow, Ireland.

    It may seem an odd and perilous place to build a church, but it originally stood at the end of a peninsula between two bays, Porth Cwyfan and Porth China, as shown on John Speed's map of Anglesey from 1636 (shown left). In the decades after this the sea slowly eroded the coast in the two bays enough that the peninsula was cut off, turning it into an island.

    A causeway was built to the island to allow parishioners to get to the island. Its remains are visible in the picture below. However, even with the causeway, sometimes high tides prevented access. At those times services were held in a room in the nearby house, Plas Llangwyfan, which was specially consecrated for the purpose.

    The waves continued to eat away at the island until, in the late 19th century, some of the graves surrounding the church began to fall into the sea. At this time the church was also disused and roofless, having been replaced by a new church further inland. However, in 1893 local architect Harold Hughes, concerned for the fate of this evocative old church, raised money to save it by constructing a seawall around the island and restoring the building.

    Llaneilian St Cwyfan's Church, 2005

    Although the church was initially built in the 12th century, only a small portion of the south wall dates from this period. Most of the walls were rebuilt during a 14th century reconstruction. In the early 16th century an aisle was added to the north side, accessed through an arcade of three arches, but it was demolished in the early 19th century as the cliff edge eroded ever closer. The infilled arches can now be seen in the outer wall, after the old cement mortar was removed during refurbishment in 2006. This refurbishment also involved limewashing the walls, making them very white, to the consternation of some locals who were used to the old grey appearance.

    This tiny church was at the centre of a big controversy in the 18th century. In 1766 the Bishop of Bangor appointed Dr Thomas Bowles as the parish priest of Trefdraeth, which included St. Cwyfan's as a chapelry. Unfortunately Dr Bowles spoke no Welsh, and only five of the 500 parishioners understood English. They protested against his appointment and eventually the case was heard in the ecclesiastical court in 1773. The judge ruled that Bowles should not have been appointed, as Welsh speaking priests should be sent to primarily Welsh speaking parishes. However, once a priest has been granted ecclesiastical freehold of a parish it is very difficult to remove them, so the judge ruled that he should be allowed to stay in his post, which he did until his death later that year.

  • Two new Themed Smilers Sheets from the BFPS

    The Royal Corp of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) was formed on 1st October 1942. In conjunction with HQ REME the British Forces Philatelic Service (BFPS) has produced a commemorative Smiler sheet and cover to mark their 75th anniversary on the 1st October 2017.

    The BFPS have used a personalised Smilers stamp and label for this issue and full sheets of this stamp/label combination are also available from BFPS.


    RFA TIDESPRING – A136 is the first of four MARS Tide Class fast fleet tankers entering service to support the Royal Navy and wider Defence. In particular they have been designed to support all Royal Navy warships, including the new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, wherever required in the world.

    To mark this occasion, the BFPS will issue an official commemorative cover in conjunction with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Association, to mark the introduction into service of this state-of-the-art vessel.

    As you will have spotted, the BFPS have again used a personalised Smilers stamp and label for this issue and also available are sheets of the same stamp/label combination.  

    Both sheets are priced at a reasonable £38.00 each and the covers £7.50 each. The REME sheet was issued on 1st October 2017 and the A136 shete is due out on 27th November 2017.  Both are available to buy from the the BFPS website. (24/10)

  • Three New Festive Generic Sheets Announced by Royal Mail 

    Royal Mail have announced details of their Christmas and Lunar New Year Generic Sheets in what has become a familiar, if not tired, format.

    The 2017 Christmas stamps set comprise twelve new stamps embracing two distinct themes, with eight featuring depictions of the Madonna & Child and four including the two winning designs from a children’s Christmas stamp design competition.  

    The Madonna and Child set of stamps comprise the following values: 2nd, 2nd Large, 1st, 1st Large, £1.17, £1.40, £1.57, £2.27 and all but the large letter versions appear on a new Generic Stamp Sheet to be issued on 7th November 2017 with a retail price of £16.40.


    "The Christmas 2017 Generic Sheet contains eight 1st Class stamps and eight 2nd Class stamps together with one each of the other values. These are set alongside labels containing traditional Christmas greetings and against an aptly celestial background that shows off these exquisite stamps to the full."  

    A second Generic Sheet will be issued on the same day priced £12.60 featuring the two winning designs from the Children’s Design Competition alongside popular festive greetings. These are set against a striking background that features images of a snow crystal, stars and (as a nod to the design competition) a pencil, pen and paint brush.


    We will be stocking both these sheets so please e-mail for further details if interested. 

    Finally, this year, Royal Mail's Lunar New Year sheet (Year of the Dog) will be issued on 16th November 2017 and will be their seventh sheet in the planned series of twelve  sheets. 


    The ‘Year of the Dog’ runs from 16th February 2018 to 4th February 2019. The labels are designed by hat-trick design and feature paper cut-outs both on the bright red background of the sheet and the labels representing the five elements of Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. The pictorial labels depict Lunar New Year festivities taking place in five UK locations and the remainder show five generic images related to the Lunar New Year. All the labels are complemented by the Fireworks definitive stamp. (14/10) 

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                                    Last updated: January 04, 2018